Last December, after Enforcement Directorate (ED) had summoned revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia in the drug-money-laundering case, the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had demanded his resignation, a stand it has now softened.
A few days before Majithia’s summoning on December 22, state BJP president chief Kamal Sharma had been saying repeatedly: “The party stand is clear. Majithia must quit.” On Wednesday, he looked defensive, wary of making any direct comment.
With BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh and local bodies minister Anil Joshi, Sharma was in Phagwara on Wednesday for the installation of new mayor. He said there was no need to reiterate the party stand.
“Whatever we had to say, we have clarified. What has appeared in the newspaper is speculation. Even if it is true, we don’t need to state it every time the report appears in the media,” said Sharma.
The state BJP chief, sources said, was under pressure not to make any statement on the issue. “After the minister was summoned, the party laid its views before chief minister Parkash Singh Badal. It’s up to the CM to decide now, as we are junior partner in the alliance in Punjab,” said Sharma.
Grilled further, Sharma said the party stood by its earlier remarks, but when asked specifically if he thought Majithia should resign, he replied: “There is no need to repeat what we have said or to speculate.”
Local bodies minister Anil Joshi, who after the attack on his brother during the Tarn Taran civic election campaign last month had stated that even the tyrannical rule of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb was better, also didn’t say much. “Whatever pardhan ji (Kamal Sharma) has said is party’s statement. I will not say anything,” said Joshi. Chugh said he would make his stand public in the coming days.
A party leader said on the condition of anonymity that since an assembly by-election campaign was starting on Thursday, any direct attack on Majithia by the BJP might put the ruling combine in an embarrassing position. Last time when the state BJP chief demanded his resignation a day before the assembly session, the Congress moved a no-confidence motion, putting the saffron party in a tight spot.
“Why invite unnecessary trouble when our party high command has good relations with the Badals. It has happened repeatedly that we revolt against the Shiromani Akali Dal on genuine issues but the high command directs us to cooperate with the Badals; so remaining quiet over the serious Majithia issue is a better option,” said a senior leader.